Today is the day, I fear. Except it's Halloween, and I don't want her to be carried away by evil spirits. Tomorrow is All Saints' Day, a far more auspicious time to depart this world. Or the next day is All Souls' Day, when we remember our dead. I suppose if she went today, it could be a bit of a three-day event, like Jesus had?
Footsteps on the stairs. Lily's, not Dusty's.
'Come in here, darling. Come and get in with me for a minute.' Lily is going to board while I'm in Vietnam. I've been trying to prepare her for Dusty's imminent demise, but she doesn't seem interested. Or maybe she doesn't want to talk about it. But I need to know that she is aware, and won't suddenly say afterwards that I didn't tell her, and she didn't say goodbye.
Reluctantly, Lily gets into my bed and lies with her back to me.
'Darling, I don't think Dusty has very long to go... It may be today, or tomorrow, probably this week... so maybe spend a little time with her this morning.'
'Mu-um,' she says a minute or two later, 'it's really annoying we don't do Halloween at the Manor.'
'Yes,' I sigh. 'But you're not missing anything here - they don't do it in Mistlebourne either. It's not like London.'
I try again. 'I understand if you don't want to talk about it, darling, but I just want to make sure you do realise that Dusty's probably going to go this week... you may want to say goodbye to her.'
Silence. A strangled sob escapes. I'm not doing it for the sympathy vote, although Lily probably thinks I am. I don't know which is worse, the fact of Dusty's passing or the aloneness in one's sadness. I feel Lily stiffen. She then turns towards me and puts her arm around me for a few moments before getting out of bed and going downstairs. I peek over the stair rail and see her stroking Dusty before going into the bathroom.